Currie Chieftains 14
ATHOLL INNES @ Mansfield Park
HAWICK produced a sterling performance to snatch a victory that hung in the balance until the final minutes at a rain-sodden Mansfield Park.
With a strong wind at their backs in the first half, the hosts led 13-0 in the 40th minute before Currie Chieftains, in one of their few attacks, scored in injury time of that opening period, and with the advantage of the elements after the break they looked set to build on that platform.
They did score again to lead for the first time early in the second half, before Andrew Mitchell chased down his own hack ahead to once again recapture the initiative for the home side. Chieftains, who were not helped by two yellow cards, battled to the end. They spent a long period encamped on the home line and seemed to be over twice, but the Hawick defence stood resolute as the game ran on to 46 second-half minutes.
Hawick, who have now moved into third place in the Premiership, might have had the game sewn up by half-time if they had used the strong wind to better advantage. In the second half, it was their defence that excelled.
“We could not execute what we had planned and coughed up a lot of scoring opportunities,” said Hawick head coach George Graham. “We knew they would come at us in the second half, but we defended very well.”
Chieftains coach Mark Cairns said his team had only themselves to blame for the defeat. “We knew that it would be hard for us, and we were happy with the score at half-time, but when we kicked the ball in the second half we did not kick long enough,” he said.
“We put ourselves in that position of having to score because of our indiscipline,” he added.
Hawick used the wind to exert early pressure and Ali Weir was wide with a penalty kick in only the third minute. But they were not to be denied and Mitchell’s charge broke the Chieftains defence, before the ball was shifted quickly through several pairs of hands for Logan Gordon-Wooley to squeeze over in the left-hand corner. Weir converted from the touchline for a 7-0 lead.
The Hawick pressure was intense as they sought to maximise the wind, but too often they lost the ball close to the Chieftains line, and when they did get over, Adam Piotrowski was penalised for an offside.
Chieftains were reduced to 14 players when Cameron Meager was yellow-carded as Currie were pushed on to the back foot and it was no surprise when Weir extended the lead with a penalty from 35 metres. Then, a minute from the interval, Weir made use of the gale to add a second penalty for a 13-0 advantage.
But in the second minute of injury time, the Chieftains pack at last gained the upper hand, and a series of forward drives led to Reece Patterson going over and Adam Hall converting.
The visitors received a second yellow card early in the second half when Matais Argiro was sent to the sin-bin for what seemed to be back-chat. Hawick looked to seize the initiative with the extra man, but it was the Chiefs who went ahead when Mike Vernel dived over the line and Hall converted.
Kirk Ford was then sent to the sin-bin as Hawick’s defence was heavily tested, but the home team still managed to score next despite being a man down when Mitchell kicked a loose ball ahead to get the touch down and Bailey Donaldson converted with 12 minutes left.
Chieftains dominated the last few minutes as the game ran into six minutes of added time. They seemed to have scored twice, but the Hawick defence stood firm.
Hawick: K Ford; L Ferguson, A Mitchell, W Griebenow, L Gordon-Wooley; A Weir, G Welsh; S Muir, C Renwick, D Johnstone, A Piotrowski, D Suddon, S Graham, Bruce McNeil, J Linton. sUBS: M Carryer, C Bachurzewski, S Fairbairn, Billy McNeil, B Donaldson.
Currie Chieftains: F Sayers; C Meager, S Hamilton, J McCaig, A MacLean; A Hall, G Christie; G Carson, F Scott, R Patterson, S Edwards, M Vernel, H Ferguson, R Davies, W Nelson. Subs: G Williamson, M Poole, M Argiro, R Vicago, C Hunter.
Referee: M. Todd.
Hawick: Tries: Gordon Wooley, Mitchell; Cons: Weir, Donaldson; Pens Weir 2.
Currie Chieftains. Tries: Patterson Vernel; Cons: Hall 2.
Scoring sequence (Hawick first): 5-0; 7-0; 10-0; 13-0; 13-5; 13-7 (h-t) 13-12; 13-14; 18-14; 20-14.
Yellow Cards –
Currie Chieftains: Meager, Argiro.
Man-of-the-Match: Hawick centre Andrew Mitchell‘s match clinching try was the culmination of an afternoon of aggressive running and excellent defensive covering.
Talking point: The defiance of the Hawick defence in the final minutes when Currie Chieftains seemed to be over the line only to have ‘scores’ ruled out by the referee says a lot about the spirit of this team when they get their focus right.